What is Erging? A Guide for Beginners

By now, you’ve probably encountered the term “erg” or “erging” in fitness circles, leaving you intrigued and perhaps a bit confused. Fear not! In this extended guide, we will dive deep into the world of ergometers, uncover the fascinating history of erging, explore the myriad benefits of rowing, and equip you with tips and insights to make yourself easier to deal them at your gym.

1- The Roots of Ergometers: A Journey Back in Time

A Journey Back in Time

1.1. Origins of the Ergometer:

Let’s take a step back to the 1800s, where the roots of ergometers can be traced. William B. Curtis, an innovator of his time, patented the first indoor rowing machine. This early rendition featured a flywheel with a ratcheting system on a small boat or canoe, setting the stage for the evolution of indoor rowing.

1.2. Evolution through the Ages:

While the Greeks dabbled in indoor rowing devices thousands of years prior, it was not until the 1970s that significant strides were made. Fast forward to the ’80s, and the Concept2 model emerged, incorporating a flywheel made from a bicycle wheel. Today’s modern indoor rowers, while vastly different, owe their core functionality to Curtis’ original design.

Tip: Understanding the historical evolution of ergometers provides context to their design and functionality.

2- Erging vs. Rowing Machines: Deciphering the Terminology

Deciphering the Terminology

2.1. Distinguishing Terms:

It’s crucial to clarify the distinction between a rowing machine and an ergometer. The former is the exercise device, while the latter measures and tracks your training and performance. This analogy aligns with an exercise bike being the equipment and a speedometer measuring your speed.

2.1. The Erg – A Brief Etymology:

The term “erg” or “ergo” is an abbreviation of ergometer and gained popularity in the 1980s. Dick and Peter Dreissigacker, creators of the Concept2 rowing machine, named their inaugural model the “Concept2 Rowing Ergometer.” Their intention was not just to train but also to track progress and foster friendly competition.

Guide: Embrace the terminology to fully appreciate the nuances of erging.

3- Erging: The Powerhouse Workout

what is erging

3.1. Unlocking the Full Potential:

Engaging in erging, or indoor rowing, offers one of the most efficient full-body workouts available. A remarkable 86 percent of your muscles are activated with each rowing stroke, setting it apart from conventional exercises.

3.2. Caloric Burn and Low Impact:

Tailored to your weight, age, and intensity, rowing can torch hundreds of calories per hour. The added benefit of being a low-impact exercise ensures reduced strain on joints compared to high-impact alternatives like treadmills.

3.3. Smart Rowers and Advanced Metrics:

Modern ergometers, especially smart rowers like Hydrow and Ergatta, provide a wealth of data beyond basic metrics. Heart rate, split time, power in watts, intervals completed—the list is extensive. Ergatta’s advanced metrics offer an unparalleled level of detail.

Tip: Invest time in understanding and interpreting the metrics for a more personalized workout.

4- Building Muscles and Beyond: The Multifaceted Benefits

what is erging

4.1. Muscle Building:

Contrary to common misconceptions, rowing is a powerful muscle-building exercise. Major muscle groups are engaged with each rowing stroke, evident in the physique of Olympic and national rowers.

4.2. Cardiovascular and Strength Training Fusion:

Indoor rowing seamlessly combines cardiovascular and strength training. The performance monitor, or ergometer, tracks power and speed, offering tangible evidence of fitness improvements.

4.3. Afterburn Effect:

Rowing induces a substantial afterburn effect or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This extended calorie burn post-workout contributes to both fat loss and muscle development.

Guide: Incorporate variety in your rowing routine to target different muscle groups.

5- The Universality of Rowing: A Workout for Everyone

what is erging

5.1. Universal Appeal:

Rowing machines, and erging by extension, cater to individuals of all ages and fitness levels. The low-impact nature of rowing makes it accessible even to those with injuries or health issues like bad knees or arthritis.

5.2. Competitive Edge:

Whether you seek self-improvement or thrive on competition, erging caters to both. Athletes worldwide utilize ergometers to enhance their performance in various sports, highlighting the versatility and effectiveness of rowing.

Guide: Start with a beginner’s rowing program and gradually increase intensity.

6- Unlocking Ergometer Efficiency

what is erging

6.1. Understanding Erging Dynamics:

Before delving into perfecting your rowing technique, it’s crucial to comprehend the underlying dynamics of erging. Get acquainted with the mechanics for a seamless journey.

6.1.1. The Importance of Proper Form:

Achieving optimal results in erging is directly linked to maintaining the correct form. Explore the significance of posture, grip, and body positioning for an effective workout.

6.2. Perfecting Your Rowing Technique

6.2.1. The Catch Phase:

Begin your stroke with the catch, ensuring a smooth entry of the oar into the water. Focus on precision and control during this initial phase.

6.2.2. The Drive:

Transition into the drive phase, utilizing the power of your legs. Explore techniques to maximize force without compromising form, enhancing your rowing efficiency.

6.2.3. The Finish:

Complete each stroke with a strong finish, emphasizing core engagement and proper handle positioning. Learn how a powerful finish contributes to overall ergometer performance.

6.3. Fine-Tuning Your Ergometer Experience

6.3.1. Utilizing Resistance:

Explore the nuances of adjusting resistance levels on your ergometer. Understand how slight modifications can cater to different fitness goals and intensify your workout.

6.3.2. Incorporating Interval Training:

Dive into the world of interval training and discover how alternating between high and low-intensity strokes can elevate your cardiovascular fitness and overall rowing prowess.

6.4. Monitoring Progress and Metrics

6.4.1. Understanding Performance Metrics:

Demystify the data displayed on your ergometer’s monitor. Learn to interpret metrics such as stroke rate, split time, and power for an informed and effective workout.

6.4.2. Setting and Surpassing Goals:

Establish realistic goals based on your fitness level and gradually challenge yourself. Uncover strategies to surpass milestones and continuously elevate your erging performance.


What muscles does erging work?

Erging is a full-body workout that engages major muscle groups, including the legs, back, arms, and core. Each rowing stroke activates 86 percent of your muscles, ensuring a comprehensive and efficient exercise.

Can erging help with weight loss?

Absolutely. Depending on factors like weight, age, and workout intensity, erging can burn up to 900 calories per hour, making it an effective and low-impact option for those aiming to shed pounds.

How do I choose between Concept2 and Hydrow rowers?

Consider your preferences and goals. Concept2 is a reliable choice for traditional rowing, while Hydrow offers an interactive and immersive experience. It’s about choosing the rower that aligns with your fitness style.

Is erging suitable for beginners or those with joint issues?

Yes, erging is beginner-friendly and low-impact, making it suitable for individuals with joint concerns or those new to fitness. The distributed effort across the body minimizes strain on joints, ensuring a comfortable workout experience.


In conclusion, erging is not merely a workout; it’s a transformative experience. Rowing engages your body comprehensively, provides effective cardiovascular and strength training, and offers a delightful way to track progress. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a beginner, the ergometer welcomes everyone to the captivating world of rowing.

So, strap into your rowing machine, embrace the rhythmic strokes, and embark on a journey to a healthier, happier you. Row healthy and be happy, friends!

Jennifer Zillin
Jennifer Zillin
Jennifer is an enthusiastic blogger with a rich background spanning over 6 years in the blogging community. Her enduring passion for all things WordPress is evident in her continuous dedication to the craft. She excels in website development, crafting SEO-optimized content, and providing valuable support to authors navigating the self-publishing journey.

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